The effect of red light and far-red light conditions on secondary metabolism in Agarwood

Chien Yen T. Kuo, Chuan Hung Chen, Shu Hwa Chen, I. Hsuan Lu, Mei Ju Chu, Li Chun Huang, Chung Yen Lin, Chien Yu Chen, Hsiao Feng Lo, Shih Tong Jeng, Long Fang O. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Agarwood, a heartwood derived from Aquilaria trees, is a valuable commodity that has seen prevalent use among many cultures. In particular, it is widely used in herbal medicine and many compounds in agarwood are known to exhibit medicinal properties. Although there exists much research into medicinal herbs and extraction of high value compounds, few have focused on increasing the quantity of target compounds through stimulation of its related pathways in this species. Results: In this study, we observed that cucurbitacin yield can be increased through the use of different light conditions to stimulate related pathways and conducted three types of high-throughput sequencing experiments in order to study the effect of light conditions on secondary metabolism in agarwood. We constructed genome-wide profiles of RNA expression, small RNA, and DNA methylation under red light and far-red light conditions. With these profiles, we identified a set of small RNA which potentially regulates gene expression via the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway. Conclusions: We demonstrate that light conditions can be used to stimulate pathways related to secondary metabolism, increasing the yield of cucurbitacins. The genome-wide expression and methylation profiles from our study provide insight into the effect of light on gene expression for secondary metabolism in agarwood and provide compelling new candidates towards the study of functional secondary metabolic components.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 12 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Agarwood
  • Aquilaria agallocha
  • Cucurbitacin
  • Genome
  • Red light
  • Secondary metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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